Standing Up For Salmon

At the expense of the salmon recovery effort, recreational interests have delayed plans to restore crucial chinook habitat in Wiley Slough, in the South Fork of the Skagit River delta. Puget Sound chinook salmon are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Restoration work was set to begin last summer to return tidal flow to a 157-acre parcel of land around Wiley Slough. Project partners, including the Skagit River System Cooperative and state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), identified the area as a priority for estuarine restoration in accordance with 2003 state legislation to restore public lands for salmon recovery before looking to private land.

The parcel, also known as the Headquarters Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area, was acquired by the state in 1962 through a land swap with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The estuary was converted for recreational use – and the salmon habitat destroyed – through dikes, drainage ditches, culverts and tide gates.